South Dakota
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 10
The sun was just breaking over the horizon when I woke up.  There wasn't a hint of a
breeze and the river was as smooth as glass.  I couldn't wait to get going.

Around 10:00, I caught a headwind.  It was enough to notice, but not brutal like yesterday.  
It stuck around for most of the day.  I reached the town of Ft. Yates right at lunch time.  It
looked big enough to support a restaurant, so I stashed the boat in the weeds and walked
into town.

I found a Taco John's.  I thought about a six pack and a pound, but decided four tacos
would be safer.  It hit the spot.

After Ft. Yates, the river widened into Lake Oahe.  At fool pool, Oahe is over 200 miles long.
 It's down about forty feet now, but it's still over 150 miles to the dam.

Oahe is the biggest Lake I'll cross on my journey.  I have a great deal of respect for this
lake.  It gets windy fast, and Oahe can go from calm to deadly in minutes.  I'll be glad when
it's behind me.

I spent my afternoon weaving through the thick sunken forest at the north end of the lake.  
There are limbs and branches everywhere just waiting to flip a kayak.  I hit a few, but
wasn't knocked over.  I have named the upper portion of Oahe
The Bay of Twigs.

I passed into South Dakota at 3:30.  I turned around and waved good bye to North Dakota
and all its foul weather.  It's sunny and warm down south.  I hope it stays that way.

I paddled until after 8:00.  I had a hard time finding a campsite on the steep rocky bank, but
finally came upon a flat spot just big enough for the tent.  There is a warm breeze tonight
and, surprisingly, no mosquitoes!  This nice day really brightened my spirits.  I hope I get a
few more like today!
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I woke up to another beautiful morning.  I didn't want to waste any of this good weather, so
I packed up early and was on the water by 6:00.

Oahe was as smooth as glass.  I needed to cross the three mile wide lake and decided to
do it early before the wind picked up.  The line that separates Central from Mountain time
runs down the lake.  I was able to reach the west shore before I left.  It wasn't as exciting
as I'd hoped.

The lake is very pretty with rolling green hills on each side and clear blue water.  Both
shores have a steep drop off of one to four feet for most of the lake.  I'm having a hard time
finding places to get the boat out of the water.

I stopped for a stretch break just above the town of Mobridge and found some interesting
shards of Indian pottery.  You aren't supposed to take artifacts from the lake, and they
would just get broken in the boat, so I left them.

I wanted to walk into Mobridge, but the low water levels have pulled the lake nearly a mile
from town.  It wasn't worth fighting through the thick grass for a hamburger, so I settled for
boat food.

After Mobridge I fought a stiff headwind and heavy boat traffic.  My campsite tonight is about
fifteen miles out of town.  There are houses on the hill just above me, but I'm camped
behind a thick stand of willows.  I don't think anyone will see me.
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For a map of Lake Oahe,
click to
page 5 of
my Photo Album
I woke up last night to the sound of thunder.  I hadn't put the rain fly on the tent, so I
grabbed my flashlight and went out to attach it.  I also grabbed some rocks to put over the
tent stakes.

In the time it took me to do that, I was bitten approximately ten thousand times by
mosquitoes and another thousand got in the tent through the fly I left open.  I spent the next
half hour squashing mosquitoes.

Just when I had fallen back asleep, a violent wind rocked my tent.  I would guess it was
over 70 mph.  The wind blew for most of the night.  The tent stayed up, but I didn't get much
sleep.  I was glad I had put rocks on the tent stakes.  It surely would have blown down
without them.

I had trouble dragging myself out of the sleeping bag after my sleepless night.  It was 8:30
by the time I hit the water.  It was a beautiful morning, but the forecast called for high winds
in the afternoon.  I wished I had gotten up earlier.

By noon, I was battling a brutal headwind.  There had been a lot of fishermen on the lake
earlier, but they were all smart enough to leave when the wind picked up.

I pulled into a small bay to eat lunch and see if the wind was going to die down.  An hour
later, it seemed to have let up a bit.  I started paddling towards a point sticking out about
two miles down the lake.  I stayed close to shore and was able to make good headway.  
Things were going well until I came to the mouth of another bay.  The wind pouring out of
the bay was so strong I could barely move forward.

There was a large tree trunk sticking out at an angle from the shore.  It was stopping most
of the waves so I began turning my boat to pull in behind it.  I was hit broadside by a big
wave and was nearly tipped.  I'm proud of myself for keeping the boat up, but I need to
avoid getting into those situations in the first place.

I landed safely and spent the afternoon exploring while I waited for the wind to calm down.  
The wind never let up and all I found was a jackrabbit and a bunch of cowpies.

The wind is still blowing and there are supposed to be severe thunderstorms tonight.  The
forecast for tomorrow doesn't sound too promising, either.  My plan is to be on the water by
6:00 and make it as far as I can before the weather gets bad.  I have less than 100 miles
left to cover on Oahe.  I need to be careful, but I can't wait to have this lake behind me.
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